Hong Kong is by far one of the coolest cities I’ve ever visited. Not in a manic discover-tastic sense like Ho Chi Minh, or clichéd like New York, but in a fresh, cool without being try-hard kinda way. Due to the massive amount of expats out there (who can blame them), and with the remnants of being a British Colony, like random street signs and road markings, there is a definite sense of familiarity.
With so much to take in, it’s quite easy to get sensory overload when you first arrive. However with seamless public transport (the taxis less so) and an easy to understand structure to each of the areas, you’ll soon settle in.
When I first get to a city, I immediately like to find my way off of the beaten track. Whilst I might find it acceptable to be scrambling around with a map and a guide book, I’d be mortified if the people in front of me were also doing the same. I know, I’m weird and I am a massive advocate of double standards.
Therefore, when we were first planning our honeymoon, I got in touch with Kit. For those of you who don’t already follow her (where have you been?), she’s a well-established blogger in the UK scene and spends her time split between the UK and Hong Kong, so I knew that she’d be the girl to tap up for recommendations and she didn’t disappoint.
That said, there are some tourist attractions, you just have to do and depending on how much time you have, I can thoroughly recommend trying the following:
- Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula
- Horse racing at Happy Valley Racecourse
- Ladies Market
- Taking a cable car to The Tian Tan (Big) Buddha on Lantau Island
- Visiting Tai O Fishing Village
Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula
The Peninsula Hotel is a fundamental part of Hong Kong’s heritage and should very much be a part of your itinerary. Head there early afternoon any day of the week to enjoy their extensive afternoon tea. Be warned, it’s likely that you’ll have to queue for up to an hour, but be sure to add Champagne to your order and you’ll soon forget that part. It’s not the best afternoon tea I’ve ever had, it was nice don’t get me wrong, but it’s something that you have to do to tick off of your list and it does make for some great people watching.
Horse Racing at Happy Valley Racecourse
A random, cheap and fun night guaranteed. You can’t help but pinch yourself as you’re watching horses fly around the flood-lit course, overlooked by skyscrapers from every direction. Be prepared to eat cheap food and drink cheap beer, don’t wear your best attire (no need to dress for Ascot here) but all in all a really fun night. Leave when you’re winning!
Having been promised amazing quality imitation products, a little tantrum proceeded to take place when I discovered this wasn’t the case. It’s fine if you’re after a Michael Kors or a Mulberry but if you’re very specific and actually turn out to hate the idea of imitations like me, then the likelihood is that you’ll be walking away empty handed. It does make for a fun couple of hours though, opening your eyes to a different aspect of the culture and there is some awesome street food nearby. Don’t be taken in by the fake monks begging for money. You heard me, FAKE MONKS.
We found an awesome park nearby with a terapin/coy carp pond and a whole floor of a shopping mall dedicated to selfie machines, so I’ll be writing more about that at a later stage.
Big Buddha on Lantau Island
The cable car journey alone is worth doing. It’s breathtaking. After a 30 minute journey, in the horizon, you see the monumental statue appear and you can’t help but gape in awe at the enormity of it. Then you arrive and realize that it’s a bit like being in Disneyland. The village that you descend in to has been completely commercialized – Starbucks is one of the first outlets that you come across and you can feel your heart slowly sinking. Then you leave that clutter behind you, turn right past the free-range grazing cows and walk towards the mass of steps that lead up to the Buddha and everything is forgotten. It’s worth taking the time to climb to the top, the views are incredible and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be discreetly rubbing him in the hope he’ll bring you good luck. Well you’ve got to try haven’t you?
Probably one of my favourite parts of our trip. We took a coach from the Big Buddha to the village but you can go directly. As soon as you step onto the village (it’s on stilts!), you’ll completely forget that you’re in Hong Kong. Reminiscent of our time in Vietnam, it’s serenity and simple way of living is utterly charming. Some of the smells of fish are less charming, especially if you’re a bit squirmish like me. Take to the winding little back streets to discover shop after shop of dried fish skins (which are a speciality) and try some of the infamous fish balls. Dickie wasn’t sold, I played the veggie card on that one.
There are some super cute little (READ: miniscule) bars that line the rivers which I highly suspect are actually the living rooms of locals. Either way they rocked and are something that you MUST try out.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing more about what we got up to, the areas that we loved, the bars that we drank and restaurants we ATE AND ATE at. As I’ve written each of the above, I’ve realised there were 100 little gems for each that we found along the way and so expect to hear more, lots more.
Ciao for now!